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Antivaccine nonsense Autism Medicine

Picking up one’s marbles and going home

One of the greatest gifts anyone can give is to donate his body to science after death. Such anatomic gifts contribute to the training of medical students, residents, and other medical professionals as well as being used for research that can contribute to the advancement of medical science. One of the things that makes an anatomic gift such a profound gift is that the donor usually has little control over what their body or body parts will be used for. There is, thus, more than a little trust in medical science involved in these gifts. When the deceased is a child, the donation of a child’s body or part of a child’s body to medical research is an even more amazingly generous gift. Such donations are precious gifts that are difficult enough to persuade people to give. It doesn’t take much to turn a “yes” answer into a “no.”

That’s why an article by Katie Wright at the anti-vaccine crank blog entitled Courchesne Brain Study Not Worth Sacrificing our Children Further really irritated me. Basically, Wright is saying that she used to think she would donate her child’s body to science if he were ever to die but, because she doesn’t like the result of a study that studied the brains of deceased autistic children and compared them to neurotypical controls, she’s now changed her mind:

If Christian’s deceased body could meaningfully contribute to innovative causation research, it would be very, very hard, but I would say yes and donate his body. If his brain were used to accelerate true progress I think it would be a great tribute to his spirit. I am sure most ASD parents feel the same way.

However the recent Courchesne Study made me change my mind about donating Christian’s brain to science. This study represents my nightmare, the worst-case scenario. Children’s brains have been used for politically driven poor quality science. I would rather Christian be buried with his brain intact than used for such abysmal research.


Why is the research so “abysmal”? Wright, who has no qualifications in science, proclaims it so because the results do not fit with her preconceived belief that vaccines cause autism and that her son Christian’s autism is due to “vaccine injury.” It is, in fact, a study that some of my readers sent to me when it first came out a couple of weeks ago. It just so happened to be around the time I was out of town giving a talk; so somehow it slipped through the cracks, as so many other worthy blogging topics often do because I just can’t blog about everything that is of interest to me. On the other hand, sometimes I’m given a chance to revisit one of these topics when someone like Katie Wright decides to go all full mental jacket on it.

This study was described in news articles that appeared around the time of its release, but, as always, I’ll go to the source, an article in JAMA entitled Neuron Number and Size in Prefrontal Cortex of Children With Autism. The study came out of UCSD and presents some provocative findings. It’s a preliminary study, given that it only examined the brains of 13 children, seven autistic boys and six control boys, but its results are fascinating and, best of all, hypothesis-generating. In brief, the authors obtained these brains from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), University of Maryland Brain and Tissue Bank, the Autism Tissue Program at the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, and the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities. As you might expect, young postmortem cases are scarce and difficult to come by for research, again, pointing to the importance of anatomical donations that Wright characterizes in this case as “sacrificing our children further” over.

Contrary to the way Wright portrays the study, which, if you believe her, was barely different from Young Frankenstein using the brain from Abby Normal, investigators were very careful to try to quantify the number of neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in both autistic and normal brains. The brains were analyzed by expert anatomists who were blinded to the group from which the brain came. The findings were simple:

Children with autism had 67% more neurons in the PFC (mean, 1.94 billion; 95% CI, 1.57-2.31) compared with control children (1.16 billion; 95% CI, 0.90-1.42; P = .002), including 79% more in DL-PFC (1.57 billion; 95% CI, 1.20-1.94 in autism cases vs 0.88 billion; 95% CI, 0.66-1.10 in controls; P = .003) and 29% more in M-PFC (0.36 billion; 95% CI, 0.33-0.40 in autism cases vs 0.28 billion; 95% CI, 0.23-0.34 in controls; P = .009). Brain weight in the autistic cases differed from normative mean weight for age by a mean of 17.6% (95% CI, 10.2%-25.0%; P = .001), while brains in controls differed by a mean of 0.2% (95% CI, −8.7% to 9.1%; P = .96). Plots of counts by weight showed autistic children had both greater total prefrontal neuron counts and brain weight for age than control children.

Leading the authors to conclude:

In this small preliminary study, brain overgrowth in males with autism involved an abnormal excess number of neurons in the PFC.

Again, this was a preliminary study with small numbers, which makes it even more surprising that a significant difference in neuronal counts was found. Considering normal variation among humans and the fact that, given the scarcity of postmortem tissue from children, it’s amazing that the investigators found anything at all. Could it be a spurious result? Sure. That’s why it needs to be confirmed with a bigger study; that is, if a bigger study can even be done. It’s also consistent with other lines of evidence implicating brain overgrowth in certain anatomic structures as being somehow related to the development of autism. What this tells us about the pathophysiology of autism remains to be seen, but it’s an intriguing observation that is likely to spur more research into the neurobiology of autism and autism spectrum disorders.

So what does Wright say about it? She doesn’t like it. Because it isn’t consistent with vaccines as a cause of autism (it being very difficult to imagine a mechanism by which vaccines could increase the number of neurons in such a manner, she’s very, very unhappy and assumes that it must be crap science:

What Couchesne’s study actually tells us is that 6 ASD children had more prefrontal cortex neurons than 7 typical children. There were no aged matched controls! 2 of the 7 “ASD” children did not even have an official ASD diagnosis! 5 of the 7 ASD kids were on anti-psychotic drugs. We have idea how these drugs affect developing brain tissue. 1 of the control children had been taking Concerta and klonopin. Another control had had an organ transplant and was on immunosuppressive drugs for lengthy periods of time. There are only 5 controls not, as far as we know, on various prescription drugs. The fact that this study was actually published only proves how low the bar is for ASD genetic and brain research. There are not enough hours this day to list all the incredible, innovative environmental research studies regularly rejected by autism research journals. A 7-person biomedical study would NEVER be published by JAMA, I promise you.

I’m not sure where Wright got the idea that two of the seven children didn’t have an ASD diagnosis. If I missed it somehow even though I read the whole paper and the online supplement, I’m sure someone will point out my mistake in the comments. The autistic cases were chosen primarily for having a diagnosis of autism, and in the text it reads:

No autism case had a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome or pervasive development disorder-not otherwise specified.

As for the rest of the obfuscation that Wright throws out about antipsychotic drugs is just that: Obfuscation. There is a table in the paper that lists all the cases and controls and describes a bit about their medical background; several of the autistic children were on psychotropic medications, which is not uncommon in children with autism. I rather suspect that when Wright wrote “We have idea how these drugs affect developing brain tissue” that she in fact meant “We have no idea how these drugs affect developing brain tissue.” Assuming that’s what she meant, she’s wrong, of course. We actually have a pretty good idea how many of these drugs affect developing brain tissue. At the very least, as the authors point out, none of these drugs are known to affect the number of neurons in the PFC. In essence, Wright’s complaints are all smoke and mirrors, whines designed to cast doubt on the study. In fact, the only points she makes that are semi-reasonable is that this was a small study (which the authors concede multiple times in the paper, pointing out that it is a preliminary study) and that maybe the criticism that including the child who had had cancer and a multiorgan transplant in the control group might not have been the best choice, given the chemotherapy treatment and immunosuppressive medications the child was on.

Not surprisingly, Wright doesn’t know what she’s talking about. It’s the perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the arrogance of ignorance, at work. It’s not as though the investigators in this study didn’t go to great lengths to try to control for the other confounding factors that she complains about, namely the lack of age-matched controls. Did she not pay attention to the part of the paper that points out how scarce postmortem brains from children that can be used for this sort of research are? Scientists make due with what they have. Wright is, in essence, intentionally making the perfect the enemy of the good and treating this study as though it were more than a preliminary study. She’s basically criticizing it because it is a preliminary study, even though, once again, the authors say right in the article that it’s a preliminary study.

Perhaps one of the most important implications of this study is mentioned in the discussion, and it’s obvious that this is the real reason Wright hates this study:

Also, prefrontal neuron counts in controls did not vary with age, which is concordant with literature that cortical neurons are generated prenatally, not postnatally.

Or, as this news report quotes Dr. Max Wiznitzer:

But since the excess neurons were found in a part of the brain that develops before a child is born, it points to a prenatal problem playing a role in autism.

“This is not consistent with that claims that heavy metals [from vaccines for example] cause the death of brain cells,” says Wiznitzer, because there are too many brain cells not less.

And that’s exactly why Wright is so upset. This study suggests that, whatever causes autism, it probably happens before birth, not after. If true, that rules out vaccines as a cause. Of course, we already have abundant scientific, clinical, and epidemiological evidence that fails to implicate vaccines as a cause of autism. It’s not as though scientists haven’t looked, either. Multiple large, well-designed studies have failed to find a correlation between vaccine and autism. As hypotheses go, the vaccine-autism hypothesis is as dead as dead can be, at least as dead as the famous parrot in a famous Monty Python sketch. Truly, it’s “pinin’ for the fjords.”

But, of course, to Wright, it’s all a huge conspiracy. Note how she writes that a study this small would never have been published in JAMA. Of course, the wag in me can’t help but note that this study is basically the same size as the infamous 1998 Lancet study published by Andrew Wakefield. One wonders whether Katie thinks that study should ever have been published in The Lancet, which is at least as high an impact a journal as JAMA. After all, the studies were basically the same size; so presumably she thinks that Wakefield’s study was no good either. But wait! I spoke too soon. Wright loves Andrew Wakefield because his “research” (such as it is) supports her pseudoscientific belief that vaccines cause autism. She even called the British General Medical Council investigation that led to Andrew Wakefield having his medical license stripped from him a “crime against humanity.” In other words, if a study with 12 or 13 subjects supports her belief that vaccines cause autism, she has no concern about the number of subjects, even when there is no control group.

I’ll take a moment to educate Wright why this study passed muster for JAMA and a study of “biomedical interventions” with only 13 subjects wouldn’t. It’s because it was incredibly difficult to obtain 13 suitable brains from children to study in this manner. Given the difficulties involved, this study was actually rather large. In the case of “biomedical” treatments, scientists would be looking at living children, meaning that there would be no barrier equivalent to what Courchesne et al faced in doing their study to recruiting a more statistically robust number of subjects.

Never mind that, though. According to Wright, this conspiracy is so pervasive that it prevents any scientist from doing anything other than gene-based research:

Families are frequenting told there isn’t enough research money available to address these issues. But guess what there is plenty of money for? Brain and gene research! These “Autism Centers for Excellence” centers blow almost $17 million a year on redundant brain and gene research. It is estimated that 50% of the ACE budgets go to overheard. There is no consumer oversight or public accountability for the money they spend. The NIH doles of autism research money behind closed dollars and without consumer input (they are under no obligation to follow the IACC recommendations), and guess what they love to fund the most? Brain and gene research.

Maybe, just maybe, the reason that the NIH funds brain and gene research is because that is the sort of research that is most likely to illuminate the biological mechanisms that lead to autism and thus point the way to treatments. The “biomedical” treatments that Wright is so enamored of are, by and large, pure quackery with no randomized clinical trial evidence to support their efficacy, much less even a modicum of biological plausibility.

Much like the notion that vaccines cause autism.

None of this stops commenters from dropping bombs of ignorance like:

The deceptive part of the report was the speculation that the increase in pre-frontal cortex neurons happened in utero. This could only be speculative and was probably intended to absolve post utero toxic exposures (e.g., mercury, which can cause abnormal cell growth in the CNS).

Uh, no. It’s not “speculation.” It’s a conclusion based on the known biology of brain development. The prefrontal cortex is already known to develop before birth. The authors even point out that the number of neurons in the prefrontal cortex was independent of age, consistent with completion of its development before birth. Seriously, these people need to learn a bit of neurobiology and actually think.

Even worse than the unrelenting ignorance on display in the article and in the comments, in the end Wright writes that “this Courchesne study has changed my mind” about donating her son’s brain to science. Because a single study doesn’t show what she wants it to show, she’s changed her mind. As if we’re supposed to be impressed. After all, fortunately the deaths of children are uncommon. Fortunately for both her and her son, it’s highly unlikely that wright will ever be called upon to donate her son’s brain to research, and that’s a good thing. No one wants to see a child die. Even though it’s an empty threat, though, Wright’s attitude is very much akin to that of a child who, if he doesn’t get her way, threatens to take all his marbles and go home. The study didn’t show what she wanted it to show; so Wright “changes her mind” about tissue donation. Even if the study to which she objects were crap, her reaction would be akin to tearing up your organ donation card because an alcoholic got a liver, after which he went back to drinking and destroyed the new liver or because Steve Jobs got a liver for a somewhat dicey indication to treat his cancer and his cancer recurred a year and a half later.

One can only hope that she doesn’t persuade other parents.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

778 replies on “Picking up one’s marbles and going home”

I read Wright’s latest rant against scientific research, at AoA. She has gotten a lot more strident…and vicious…as of late, because of her devotion to the junk science theory of vaccine-induce autism.

You are so right Orac, in your appraisal of her deranged thinking processes. She has some sort of educational background in some basic sciences…I believe she has a degree in psychology or social work. Apparently her minimum science education is overwhelmed by her one-track mind.

It is nothing short of amazing how “she just knows” that Klonopin was prescribed as an anti-psychotic for one of the children whose brain was studied. Katie is too dumb or too devious to acknowledge that Klonopin was originally developed and prescribed…and continues to be prescribed for treatment of certain seizure disorders.

Katie is J.B.’s tool against the fine research into the preconception, prenatal causes of autism and the genes mutations that have been identified as causing autism. Those breakthrough research studies are being conducted and funded by Autism Speaks, SFARI, NYS-IBR (Institute for Basic Research) and other groups.

Her fixation on the funding stream that goes into real research and the activities of the IACC is truly pathological. She frequently composes long screeds about these topics for AoA. She (sadly) holds on to her beliefs that studies of genes and the in utero “environment” are dead end topics. She’d much rather cling to the thoroughly debunked theories of her hero Andy Wakefield that claim that kids are “damaged” by vaccines or by other postnatal environmental toxins.

Katie, you and your friends at AoA are always welcome to post at RI because Orac doesn’t have the “moderation policy” that exists at AoA. So, why not “join us” in a lively discussion of your “interpretation” of the Courchesne Brain Study and your critique of the study?

I have a special interest in your discouraging parents of deceased disabled children to make anatomic gifts of their child’s tissue for research and to meet the needs of people who are in desperate need of donor organs and tissues to restore their health. I’d also like to discuss the illustration of the toilet, that is pictured above your article.

This tangentially touches on a topic that you might know the answer to. How DO you leave your body to science?

I’m transsexual and pretty weird in a few ways, so I doubt my body will be fit for organ donation, a fact that actively bothers me. I grew up with a strong family belief in organ donation, and it was always something I took solace in knowing I would die someday; doing so could save someone else.

With that gone, I’ve floundered, and a few months ago thought of the leaving to science thing. I doubt they get very many post-op trans bodies to poke around in, and I think it’s something probably well needed if we are ever to start learning WHY trans people are trans, and to better deal with them.

Having realized it is what I want to do, and knowing full well how sudden and unplanned death is when it comes, I find myself at a loss how to even begin doing this. Organ donation is easy; you tick a box, make sure your family knows, and voila. Being a studied corpse seems a lot less obvious!

I know this doesn’t directly comment on the idiocy abounding in other people’s views, but hey, maybe I can balance them a little. 😉

Jamie @2

I’m unsure how donation occurs anywhere apart from my own country.

I recommend that you approach your nearest medical school, possibly the Anatomy Department, and ask them for advice.

I have carried an organ donor card for many years. I believe my spouse found a version online valid in the US.

As for Ms Wright’s aversion to science and reality, it is just another selfish act. She fights hard to waste money searching for a vaccine source depriving more fruitful investigations funding. She advocates skipping vaccinations in favor of real disease for her family and for the immuno-compromised around her. She spreads lies and foolishness like the chickenpox she loves because she cannot accept her son as he is without an external cause.

Selfish, stupid, credulous and outspoken. Bad combination.

This study suggests that, whatever causes autism, it probably happens before birth, not after. If true, that rules out vaccines as a cause.

I wonder if anyone can work out why vaccines can not be ruled out ?

Answer A –

Answer B –

Answer C –

Three different reasons (at least) can be elucidated from the study and a broader knowledge base.

Good Luck I’ll be offering grades in High Distinction 5 answers . Distinction 4 answers Credit 3 Answers Pass 2 Answer Fail 1 – 0

Bonus marks for clear reasoning and citations.

A chance to redeem for science and critical thinking.

So, basically, this woman has gotten it in her head that vaccines are IT, and no mountain of evidence to the contrary is going to change her mind ?

Sounds a lot like Global Warming Denialism, 9/11 Trooferism and general conspiracy theory nuttyness.

Jamie @2 : organ/body donation procedures vary by locality. Assuming you live somewhere in the USA (a big assumption on my part — ORAC has an international following), your state will likely have it’s own laws and rules regarding donation.
Perhaps the best way to answer your question is to look up your local medical school on the internet and see if they have a section on their website or person to contact.

Last week Katie Wright posted another gem bemoaning the inadequacy of autism research. It seems that she was unhappy because seven studies conducted in the last decade failed to find any evidence that gluten/casein free diets benefit autistic children. First she lists all of the studies and their results. Then whines that the studies were all flawed because she believes they included foods with artificial colors, potatoes, rice, or otherwise failed to include input from a “real” ASD diet specialist.
Like all of the other bloggers on AoA, Katie thinks she’s being a fierce advocate for autistic children when in reality she’s just deeply frustrated who needs a scapegoat to avoid taking out her anger on her child.

Hm. I thought I carried an organ donation card in my wallet, but evidently I don’t. Wonder what happened to it and how long I’ve been without it …

Somewhat less importantly, I also wonder where the SIM card I do carry in my wallet comes from, and how long I’ve been carrying it about.

Orac, whenever you discuss something from AoA I sadly cannot resist the urge to take a peek. I wish you wouldn’t tempt me – each time I read their tripe I end up apoptosing more of my precious neurones. (In fact I am sure so many of us have had similar experiences that AoA should be cited as the main cause of brain toxicity. Vaccines have nothing to do with it.)

Their antivax propaganda machine seems to have plumbed new depths. In its sights are the BMJ and their editor, Fiona Godlee. It is also apparent that the AoA minions have flocked to the BMJ site to “vote up” all the comments from their heroic, shiny knights in armor defending Saint Andy of Wakefield and to vote down any reasoned response that conflicts with their warped mindset. http://www.bmj.com/comment/rapid-responses [click on the “sort by” button and select popularity and you’ll get my drift]

AoA are also rallying round their other hero, Judy Mikovits of imagined “XMRV-in-vaccines-causes-autism” fame. Perhaps they will raise enough funds to send her a food parcel while she languishes in jail.

Hello friends –

Regarding the donation of tissue for the autism research program, this is a big problem, as mentioned by Courchesne in other statements, there is a very real dearth of quality brain tissue from patients with autism. For the people out there that have a child with autism, or have autism, please, please consider learning more about the autism tissue donation program. Here is the url: http://www.autismtissueprogram.org

The unyielding facts of the matter are that the brain tissue needs to be collected within twenty four hours of death. This is something you have to know about, care about, and be prepared to deal with quickly during the worst of times, but ultmimately is a resource our community really needs.

Mrs. Wright’s article was a tour de force in dumbness, if anything, we need a lot more study of the brain tissue of children who experienced drastic loss of skills. Sad.

Regarding the Courchesne study, which I’ve yet to get a copy of myself, (?!!??!), I have seen it stated that the children in question were severely affected by autism, and most (or all) macroencepelatic during infancy, further warranting caution in extrapolating the results. Also, I ran into this the other day, which indicates that there may be some mechanisms by which neurons are created in the prefrontal cortext for a brief period postnatally.

Corridors of migrating neurons in the human brain and their decline during infancy (Nature 478, 382-386 (20 October 2011)

Here we find that the infant human subventricular zone and RMS contain an extensive corridor of migrating immature neurons before 18 months of age but, contrary to previous reports8, this germinal activity subsides in older children and is nearly extinct by adulthood. Surprisingly, during this limited window of neurogenesis, not all new neurons in the human subventricular zone are destined for the olfactory bulb—we describe a major migratory pathway that targets the prefrontal cortex in humans. Together, these findings reveal robust streams of tangentially migrating immature neurons in human early postnatal subventricular zone and cortex.

– pD

@blackheart
I’ll bite. Let’s see… reasons vaccines cannot be ruled out…
A. For the same reason you can’t rule out maternal nose picking as a cause?
B. Because the epidemic of autism hit at the exact same time every single pregnant woman in the US loaded up with toxic vaccines, without exception?
B. Because vaccine disposal leads to beyond-Avogadro doses of homeopathic vaccines in the water supply, which pregnant women drink?
No, wait, that last one would cure autism, obviously.

Hell, I dunno. Why don’t you tell us. And while you are at it, could you tell us the first word at the top of page 2032, just to prove you have actually read the article?

Please ignore the “blackhearted” derailing-the-thread troll.

It’s beginning to become an AoA Thanksgiving tradition to post tasteless offensive articles and “artwork” at this time of year.

I’m donating my organs, but wasn’t interested in giving parts to medical science. I’d seen too many folks doing disrespectful things to various bodies and body parts. Recently, I’ve been changing my mind. 1. I’m dead, what do I care, and 2. just because someone is disrespectful doesn’t mean they won’t learn something they need to know.

Sort of ironic that Wright complains about the small sample size used in the study (because there aren’t that many children’s brains donated), and her response is to not donate her child’s brain in the (hopefully very unlikely) event of his death.

I wonder if part of the resistance to the study is that if the extra neurons occur in utero, they feel they’re at fault as they did something wrong while carrying. ??

If the same study supported Wright’s claims, she wouldn’t give a fart about sample size or where it was published.

I don’t get these people, I really don’t.

Orac will cite this thread when he receives his Nobel price. Autism is caused by too many neurons, reading AoA leads to neuron apoptosis, cure found (so it turns out watching a full set of Republican presidential debates is the faster treatment option).

I read the article yesterday- without even going into the physio**- I regard AoA as an avenue for mis-education and mis-directed activism that rivals any of the efforts by Mssrs Adams and Null. Awful.

However,this “think tank” is, in many ways, a support group and network for parents who may feel as if they have nowhere else to go. The tragedy is that the sort of speculation broadcast and discussed actually works against better understanding of autism, SB therapies, reality-based physio, and reasonable coping strategies for parents * by pre-emption*.

If ( like followers of the aforementioned woo-meisters) a parent puts all of their effort, financial resources, faith,and “heart” into a whimsy-based path towards “cure”-eventually they will be mightily disappointed. How do you feel after you have exhausted yourself in pursuit of a dream fed by un-reality?

To compare this further: either by website or broadcast, followers recieve “education” on a regular basis, along with a measure of indoctrination against SB research. Because I have, over the years, steeped myself in this nonsense***, I can describe how the pseudo-science is merely window-dressing for the real deal: it’s a cult of personality. You have the Brave Rebel Paradigm-shifter/ Truth-teller or the Brave Maverick Doctor: supporters cluster to bask in their icon’s wisdom. Supporters in turn task a lesson from their masters and emulate them.

Of course as the material becomes more wildly off-base supporters become more isolated from the mainstream -including friends, associates, and family members- thus they have painted themselves into a corner with like- minded cohorts, re-inforcing each others’ outlandish beliefs, further distancing themselves from the general public. Thus, we have young Jake in pursuit of Dr Godlee and an epi we all know and love as well as his other *betes noires*. And us. All of whom could conceivably *help* him in the world.

I just shake my head.

** check out LONI @ UCLA
*** @ dt- don’t worry about the neurons, you’ll be fine. I can still do mental computations and follow my investments.

In Missouri, the back of your driver’s license is your organ donation card.

I’m a little surprised most states don’t do the same. We’re not the most progressive state out there.

Hello friends –

Regarding the donation of tissue for the autism research program, this is a big problem, as mentioned by Courchesne in other statements, there is a very real dearth of quality brain tissue from patients with autism. For the people out there that have a child with autism, or have autism, please, please consider learning more about the autism tissue donation program. Please google the autism tissue network for more information.

The unyielding facts of the matter are that the brain tissue needs to be collected within twenty four hours of death. This is something you have to know about, care about, and be prepared to deal with quickly during the worst of times, but ultmimately is a resource our community really needs.

Mrs. Wright’s article was a tour de force in dumbness, if anything, we need a lot more study of the brain tissue of children who experienced drastic loss of skills. Sad.

Regarding the Courchesne study, which I’ve yet to get a copy of myself, (?!!??!), I have seen it stated that the children in question were severely affected by autism, and most (or all) macroencepelatic during infancy, further warranting caution in extrapolating the results. Also, I ran into this the other day, which indicates that there may be some mechanisms by which neurons are created in the prefrontal cortext for a brief period postnatally.

Corridors of migrating neurons in the human brain and their decline during infancy (Nature 478, 382-386 (20 October 2011)

Here we find that the infant human subventricular zone and RMS contain an extensive corridor of migrating immature neurons before 18 months of age but, contrary to previous reports, this germinal activity subsides in older children and is nearly extinct by adulthood. Surprisingly, during this limited window of neurogenesis, not all new neurons in the human subventricular zone are destined for the olfactory bulb we describe a major migratory pathway that targets the prefrontal cortex in humans. Together, these findings reveal robust streams of tangentially migrating immature neurons in human early postnatal subventricular zone and cortex.

– pD

ps: Previous post got held up in moderation w/a single link so re-posting w/out link to autism tissue program. Orac you can nuke the other response. Am I in a special queue for moderation?

It must really burn Katie Wright that Autism Speaks, the organization founded by her parents, has announced the intention to sequence the genomes of the members of more than 2,000 mulitplex autism families in the next two years:

http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/autism-speaks-funds-creation-world%E2%80%99s-largest-autism-genome-library

A project funded by the Welcome Trust has already sequenced the genomes of 400 individuals with ASD, and there are plans to include almost 500 more, plus their parents and controls.

http://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/conference-news/2011/world-congress-of-psychiatric-genetics-2011/ambitious-u.k.-project-set-to-sequence-10-000-genomes

The horror!

@ Daniel J. Andrews:

I suspect that one of the reasons some parents fight against genetic/ physio data is because of the imagined *stigma* involved- contributing genes that may be related to ASD doesn’t make you responsible but it might be *inferred* by some people that your genes are “inferior” to the average person’s… that SBM is calling them “lesser beings” or suchlike. Even though conditions may be caused by mutation. Casting aspersion on vaccines relieves them of this burden. It’s what they want to hear.

I just can’t imagine the mental process that would lead to me caring what happens to my carcass after I’m through with it. In Washington, too, your driver’s license is your organ donor card. I checked the box, even though I don’t think it will do much good—my internal organs are barely of any use to me any more. My corneas are OK, though, and that’s one of the biggest benefits of organ donation, so maybe that will help somebody.

So a big part of her complaint is that the study is small–so she discourages people from donating brains to autism research?

In this field 7 brains is doing quite well, particularly at the younger ages. Of course, smaller numbers reduce sensitivity, but the differences were large enough that the results were significant. It doesn’t prove that every autistic child has excessive prefrontal neurons (there was some overlap in the ranges of the two groups), but it certainly supports other evidence that indicates that early brain overgrowth is often found in autism.

The children all seem to be classically autistic. There have been few studies of Asperger brain, and my understanding is that there is not much Asperger tissue available for research. I hope that this will change in the future, as people with Asperger Syndrome are becoming more organized, and many are interested in science.

The effects of medications are always a worry in studies of this nature. Most people with autism receive some drug therapy, so researchers who look at postmortem tissue cannot avoid the issue. But there aren’t any obvious commonalities in the medication histories, making it unlikely that this is the cause of the neuronal excess. While it is not impossible that a drug could cause neuronal proliferation, loss of neurons is more likely–it is a lot easier to kill neurons than to make them proliferate–so a similar proliferative effect from different drugs is a big stretch.

Based upon what I saw at the latest Neuroscience Meeting, and my conversations with autism researchers, it is simply not true that nongenetic causes are not being pursued. It is clear that hardly anybody in the field takes the vaccine or mercury hypothesis seriously anymore, but that does not exclude other environmental causes, such as prenatal exposure to viruses or drugs, and a recent study found a higher concordance of autism among nonidentical twins than previously reported, suggesting a role for shared environment. However, there has been good progress in the genetic area. It is clear that genetic traits play a role in at least some cases of autism, so this is an important direction. Animal models being pursued include both pharmacological and genetic models. A good animal model would be extremely valuable for screening for possible therapies, but at the moment there is something of an embarrassment of models, and their relevance to human autism is unclear. There were a lot of reports describing disruption of rodent social behavior resulting from various pharmacological and genetic manipulation, and the only real conclusion that I was able to draw was that rodent social behavior is fragile, and there are a lot of ways to screw it up. Evaluation of these animal models based upon what can be learned from postmortem human brain is going to be crucial for identifying models that may be relevant to man, so tissue donation remains critical to progress in the field.

Katie Wright is AoA’s resident accountant/analyst of the funds and resources being devoted to the preconception and prenatal influences, on the brain development of children diagnosed with autism…she is not pleased.

As “brian” noted, Katie’s parents’ generous support of Autism Speaks has enabled science-based genetic research to go forward.

Other groups and governmental agencies such as IBR (Institute for Basic Research) funded by NYS are world-renowned for their past research and breakthroughs that add to our knowledge of genetic disorders.

Why doesn’t Katie and the other “journalists” at AoA, urge their readership to agree to blood tests on their autistic children to determine if these children have gene-based disabilities? What are they afraid of? Could it be that participating is such research would disprove their pet pseudoscience theories of vaccines-causing-autism, post-natal environmental “toxins” causing autism and further damaging the reputation of their heroes such as Wakefield, the Geiers and other snake oil salesmen?

However,this “think tank” is, in many ways, a support group and network for parents who may feel as if they have nowhere else to go. The tragedy is that the sort of speculation broadcast and discussed actually works against better understanding of autism, SB therapies, reality-based physio, and reasonable coping strategies for parents * by pre-emption*.

This is what bothers me the most whenever Orac posts about autism quackery. I feel so sorry for the children who are saddled with these misinformed parents. Denice, is it possible to tell from the AoA discussions if any of them pursue reality-based treatments (speech and behaviour therapy, ABA, etc.) or is it all quack detoxifying regimens and spurious dietary restrictions?

Thingy knows “Unit 731” was something bad, but has absolutely no idea what it was.

Please don’t feed ignorant, nasty, delusional disease-promoting Thingy troll.

BTW, Katie lives in NYC and all NYS driver’s licenses have organ and tissue donation boxes that should be checked off, by people who wish to donate their organs and tissues after death.

As a researcher on autism treatment who regularly reads outside their particular field, I’ve found Courchesne’s group is prolific, properly tempered in their assertions about their work, and have had their worked independently verified by other researchers. This particular study is a natural extension of their work on structural differences in the brains of persons with ASDs.

Introversion is a near-universal characteristic of autism, though of course not all introverts are autistic. Introversion does not mean you are shy, but it does mean that you have a lower baseline for arousal. Perhaps, it is this personality trait that predisposes some children to be more vulnerable to develop autism. Though, some children may be born with autism, others may develop autism after some sort of stimulation or change to the brain and immune system.

PET scans reveal that introverts have more activity in the frontal lobes of the brain and anterior, or front, thalamus. Extroverts exhibit more activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus, temporal lobes and posterior thalamus. These variations in brain activity suggest that a lot of our individual differences have an underlying biological cause.

The brain processes information much differently in introverts, than in extroverts. It could be that this biological difference in the brain is what makes some children more susceptible to vaccine injury. Vaccines are designed to cause an immune-response and the way the brain is wired may very well be a contributing factor as to why some children are biologically more vulnerable to vaccine injury, than others.

@ Edith Prickly:

From what I can ascertain a few of the posters do make use of therapy and state sponsored ed ( Hallelujah!); it appears that the reality-based co-exists along with the whimsical,i.e. GFCF,HBOT, chelation, and supplements. Can I venture a guess as to what set of therapies they would attribute any improvement?

I normally don’t respond to drive-by trolling. But I just read Orac’s summary.

Holy crap.

Thingy, that wasn’t just unfunny, it was profoundly disrespectful. I don’t give a damn what you think about Orac or anybody else, that was inappropriate as hell.

It could be that this biological difference in the brain is what makes some children more susceptible to vaccine injury.

If there was good scientific evidence suggesting that some children were more susceptible to vaccine injury than others, then it would be worth devising hypothesis to explain the difference. However, we do not have good scientific evidence to suggest that autism has ever occured as a result of vaccine injury, so speculating on a possible mechanism by which it might be happening on a regular basis is like trying to build a case for murder before even checking to see if maybe the victim is actually alive and well.

@Rachael

That’s a horrible argument. Basically, what your argument boils down to is: “Behavioral differences between individuals have a biological basis; therefore, vaccine injury can cause autism.” Seriously, that’s how bad your argument is when stripped to its essence. It’s a non sequitur at best, and at the very least, as lawyers say, it relies on “facts not in evidence.” In other words, there’s no evidence that autism is caused by vaccine injury and no compelling evidence of biological differences leading to greater susceptibility to “vaccine injury” that can contribute to autism.

Denice @21

I think it’s more than the “stigma.” It’s personal. If the genetic hypothesis is correct, then Katie Wright is to blame for her child’s autism. For a parent, that’s a horrifying thought — the idea that you were the cause of your child’s problems. The fact that the AoA crowd regard autism as an unmitigated disaster for a family makes it that much worse.

She clings to the vaccine idea (not even a hypothesis by this time) is because it shifts the blame onto “them” — the CDC, BigPharma and their many minions in the medical milieu.

Katie Wright wrote:

This study represents my nightmare, the worst-case scenario. Children’s brains have been used for politically driven poor quality science.

I think my irony meter just sublimated directly into a gas.

A 7-person biomedical study would NEVER be published by JAMA, I promise you.

But I absolutely know vaccines cause autism because of a 12 person study published in the Lancet that was retracted for fraud. It’s totally been vindicated by a small handful of five and six person studies published in low tier journals, and personal anecdotes. Now that’s convincing!

Brain differences Orac … brain differences. Introverts have more brain activity in general, specifically in the frontal lobes; something that is hardwired in the from birth and can be seen on brain scans. Introverts have a lower baseline for arousal because of a biological difference in the brain.

This study counted neurons in seven brains of children diagnosed with autism and compared them to typically developed brains. All of the children had severe autism, none were ever diagnosed with PDD/NOS or Asperger’s Syndrome.

In a discussion over at SFARI AUTISM a member of the autism tissue program stated “I know that sample,” says Lange, who is on the advisory board of the Autism Tissue Program, which manages some of the samples in the study. “It’s of varying quality, from poor to acceptable.”

20% of autism cases have large brains but 20% have abnormally small brains. Its hard to extrapolate to all cases a finding from a very small sample.

I see that “Rachael” posted that same specious argument… verbatim…on the AoA website three hours ago.

Rachael, why don’t you go back to AoA and tell Katie that we are waiting for her to post here? I’m especially interested in her disingenuous argument against organ and tissue donations.

One might also note the comment in the accompanying editorial by Janet Lainhart and Nicholas Lange:

Postmortem brain tissue studies in autism research, and in general, are difficult to conduct due to limited availability of brain samples, non-representativeness of the samples, variable causes of death, potentially long postmortem intervals, and differences in brain extraction, sectioning and tissue processing protocols and cell counting methods. Most if not all case-control tissue sample sizes are small, and representative population-based postmortem reference data, similar to those currently available from large normative samples of in vivo pediatric brain imaging, do not exist.

Those challenges notwithstanding, the study by Courchesne et al has several unique strengths: some of the brains examined were from very young children and cognitively high-functioning individuals with autism, and only 1 case had a history of seizures. Many of the brains examined in prior postmortem studies have been from older individuals who had severe autism, intellectual disabilities, and seizures. Further, the investigation quantified neuron and glial cell numbers stereologically in a volume of the cerebral cortex much larger than that of many previous tissue studies. These methodological strengths allowed Courchesne et al to examine the relationship of cell number to brain weight and perform the most direct and specific quantitative study to date on the cellular basis of brain size variation in autism.

What I see here is a lot of people bringing forward rational arguments. But what you fail to see is that the line of thinking among vaccine critics has nothing to do with rationality. Take this,

The brain processes information much differently in introverts, than in extroverts. It could be that this biological difference in the brain is what makes some children more susceptible to vaccine injury.

and note how a far-fetched assumption is put on the same playing field as a small, but scientifically sound study.

Typical anti-vaxxer thinking – they’ve already convinced themselves that vaccines are the cause, so anything that disproves that idea is immediately discarded.

Before any of the resident trolls tries to turn that around – at least the pro-vax stance can point to decades of research (including the very beginnings of vaccine science, long before the birth of so-called “BIG PHARMA”) the success of the vaccine program in general, and the continued refinement of the manufacturing process, so that what we have today continues to improve in levels of safety over time.

So, you have one side firmly based in actual science, with proof to back it up, and on the other, you have nothing but supposition and emotion….and that about sums it up.

“It was incredibly difficult to find 13 suitable brains from children to study.” Funny how 13 ish monkeys was way too few to study in the Hewitson primate study. Because, I guess primates are really easy to obtain and house.
” Known biology of brain development” has actually evolved since the mid /90’s so your statement is just that – a statement. It would be like a person in the 1300’s saying okay I think we’re done here with the whole clock idea (pre-pendulum) or, okay I think we’re done here with the Greeks figuring an imbalance between the 4 humors causes illness.

I could never be a physician or psychologist; then I’d be obligated to treat people who are this staggeringly stupid – they cling so much to their favored hypothesis that vaccines cause autism that they plug their ears about how brains work – if they solicited my help.

Research works just fine for me.

Unsure, you appear to not actually know much about the biology of brain development. The particular aspect of brain development called into question here has survived after repeated testing SINCE the mid ’90s.

Lilady- how is ?Blackheart de-railing the thread???? He’s bang on topic. Are you a moderator or paid blogger?

The only topic of discussion one can get from blackheart’s post is “How can any human be so mind-blowingly arrogant?

The only topic of discussion one can get from blackheart’s post is “How can any human be so mind-blowingly arrogant?

It is nearly as good as the time MJD decided to give out a reading assignment, though.

I’m not so sure you’ve been reading RI long enough to understand why lilady is calling blackheart a troll. He’s derailed a number of other threads recently with bad arguments and egocentric chest-puffing about his own (woefully overestimated) brilliance.

Or do I detect a whiff of unwashed socks…?

Or do I detect a whiff of unwashed socks…?

Not enough random multidimensional, multilayered use of boldface.

I’d seen too many folks doing disrespectful things to various bodies and body parts.

That’s fine with me. I like the idea of some techs playing touch football with my urinary bladder or some other useless bits after the good bits have been harvested. I’m having plenty of fun with my body in life; it’s only fair it should continue to be a source of fun after my death. I won’t be around to care.

it’s only fair it should continue to be a source of fun after my death.

I wanna be a halloween decoration, or a marionette!

I’m not a neuroscientist, but I used to maintain computers for one, so here’s what I wonder:

It should be feasible to scan these brains post mortem in an NMR scanner, using a diffusion weighted scan. With enough samples, one could get a reasonable mapping from a DWI-MRI image to an estimate of neuronal density.

Once you have that you can start scanning living children and get the same kind of data, at which point you can have data points by the gross.

Now would be a good time for these kooks to leave the game while they’re behind.

The good news I take from this is that medical research is continuing, and may someday identify the factors that actually cause autism. The pseudo-scientific antics of the antivaxers aren’t preventing that research, although they are still dangerous from a public-health standpoint.

are you sure:

“It was incredibly difficult to find 13 suitable brains from children to study.” Funny how 13 ish monkeys was way too few to study in the Hewitson primate study. Because, I guess primates are really easy to obtain and house.

First off, yes, monkeys are easier to obtain and house than human beings. Much easier. You can actually buy them. It’s illegal to buy humans, as you may have noticed. (Quite a lot of Americans killed quite a lot of other Americans over that very issue 150 years ago.)

But that’s not the main problem with the Hewitson study. In addition to the small sample size (a problem, but not an insurmountable one), the control and study groups were imbalanced — only three controls for 13 study animals. By contrast, this brain study had six children with ASD and seven controls. There were also animals unaccountably dropped from the study, and certain data sets were also unaccountably dropped from the final version of the study — perhaps because they weren’t supporting the hypothesis? But the most glaring problem, in my mind, was that even if the study had the power to detect a real vaccine problem, the way they were administering the vaccines in the trial to duplicate the full childhood schedule had a pretty good chance of causing behavioral problems in the animals anyway — they tried to scale the timing of the shots to the animals’ much more rapid development, which meant that they were pulling animals out of the community pretty frequently and then sticking them with needles.

This study, examining post mortem the brains of children with and without ASDs, is very intriguing. It is not sufficient to explain the cause, or even *a* cause, of autism, and the researchers themselves state that. (Quite a contrast to Hewitson, who was very confident in her rather dubious conclusions.) But the results are provocative, and it provides fertile ground for new research. That’s a good thing.

@ . . . are you sure?

Surely you understand that the real problem with Hewitson’s unfortunate macaque study was that she rather desperately misinterpreted the abnormal development in her tiny control group (where the complete results available from, as I recall, only two animals were clearly counter to the published information available regarding the typical development of the amygdala of both human and macaque infants) as normal, don’t you? That’s why she wrongly interpreted the normal development in her vaccinated group as being abnormal. So, yes, the small numbers were a problem, but that issue might not have been so disruptive if she (or the “reviewers” for that obscure Polish journal) had bothered to read the scientific literature that was directly related to her project. Courchesne at least tries to keep up.

@…are you so sure?

Type “Laura Hewitson” into the search box of this blog. Read. Learn. Her study was a horribly designed study.

In New York state, not only is your driver’s license your organ donor card (there’s a red heart icon indicating it) but you can go online if you want to do something more complicated than “take anything usable.” Also, the donor-to-be’s decision is final: with my signup, they won’t need to bother my grieving next of kin (or, conversely, they can’t override my decision). Or so the state told me. I have, of course, discussed this with the people closest to me, but someone without close relatives might be glad that they could be an organ donor even if a second cousin couldn’t be found or their good friend couldn’t find the appropriate power of attorney and such.

Also, I have relatives upstate who have signed up to donate their bodies to medical research; they did it through the local university.

@Rachael

I have no doubt I’m wasting my breath here but here we go anyways.
You are indeed correct in your basic premise that function follows structure, differences in the brain can indeed form the basis for our behaviors and abilities. Now if you can produce scientifically backed evidence (Backed by good science mind you) that vaccines cause a change in brain structure then you may be onto something. Merely stating, as Orac pointed out, that “Behavioral differences between individuals have a biological basis; therefore, vaccine injury can cause autism.” is not a valid argument. Heck it’s not really much of anything but a waste of space on a discussion forum.

I wanna be a halloween decoration, or a marionette!
Pinata possibility!

the way the brain is wired may very well be a contributing factor as to why some children are biologically more vulnerable to vaccine injury, than others.

It would be nice at this point to have some evidence that “some children are biologically more vulnerable to vaccine injury” rather than slipping it in as if it were a universally accepted fact.

The whole “subgroup of children susceptible to vaccines” line of argument is weird. The only reason for postulating that vaccines were EVILZ was to explain a supposed epidemic of autism. Then the epidemiology and the results of removing thimersoral showed that this was bullshit. So the anti-vax campaigners withdrew to a fallback position, the “vulnerable subgroup” claim.

Obviously this assumption no longer accounts for the purported epidemic so what is the sodding point of assuming it at all? Apart from saving face by making a graceful retreat from one’s original claims rather than an outright admission of error?

@ pD: I doubt it was the link in your first posting. Sometimes, I have found, Sciblogs will randomly put a comment into moderation for no apparent reason, and it’s happened to me more commonly in the past few months. I don’t know why. So don’t think it’s you. 🙂

This is an interesting study. Small sample, yes, and the authors admit that and stress this is an area that needs more study. From Orac’s review, it appears to me that they will continue to try and study this, unlike St Andy, who when given the resources and the opportunity never tried to honestly replicate his study.

I’ve often thought about donating my body to science, and that is what I want done. Organs, if they can be used. Otherwise, give my body to science so that others in the future can have more knowledge.

I am reminded of the member of the House of Lords years ago, a committed Buddhist and a foe of elaborate funerals that turn into morbid celebrations of death, who wanted to donate his body to the Battersea Dogs’ Home. The Home’s board of directors were forced to reject his offer, stating that they were not questioning his Lordship’s culinary or nutritive qualities, but they were bound by legal constraints.

Lousy study-
Brain pruning may be halted by vaccines-the immune system does have a role-
It’s Too Many,Too Soon-
It’s the vaccines dummies.

Speaking as a member of the group being talked about, I find the idea of vaccine’s being the cause of Autism just plain stupid.

I know in my case I was not diagnosed until adulthood(after my symptoms had significantly improved through my own efforts, yay me) because my family have a very strong ‘people with poor social skills and mental illness(s) are bad/inferior’ attitude.

Reading a bit about family life and social attitudes through the ages suggests to me that the above attitude is fairly common. If so, then it seems reasonable to suggest that in those of us who are vulnerable that being ostracised to any extent would aggravate our symptoms. The question now is, with greater population densities are we required to be more socially adept now? Could this be causing at least some of us to be mildly Autistic in stead of borderline, severe instead of mild, etc?

Please note: I am not advocating that the above is the cause or even a cause, I am merely throwing a hypothesis to the wind so to speak.

Passionless Drone (who has posted here previously, attempting to link vaccination with autism) said (post #11):

Regarding the Courchesne study, which I’ve yet to get a copy of myself, (?!!??!), I have seen it stated that the children in question were severely affected by autism, and most (or all) macroencepelatic (sic) during infancy, further warranting caution in extrapolating the results.

Uh, “?!!??!”? That’s a lot of fevered punctuation. Are the same dark forces holding up your previous comment in moderation on this blog responsible for your not yet having read the full JAMA article? And “Seen it stated”…seen it stated by who? Even if the part about macroencephaly was so, why exactly do you think this might invalidate the study? And were you aware that macroencephaly may not correlate with increased numbers of neurons? – in fact, the number of neurons may be decreased in macroencephaly, depending on what factors are involved.

It would be nice to see acknowledgement by pD (who apparently reads a lot of research papers) that, as Orac noted, what’s bugging Katie Wright (and probably other members of the vaccines-cause-autism alliance) is that the JAMA report flies in the face of assumptions that vaccine “toxins” cause autism, seeing as how the authors’ preliminary results demonstrated significantly more neurons in the brains of autistic children, while you’d expect fewer neurons in the case of actual toxin exposure.

Good to see that pD at least supports further organ donation to learn more about autism, even if he must cast doubt as quickly as possible on the fruit of that research (if it doesn’t meet preconceived notions about the harmfulness of vaccines).

@68:

Of all the stupid arguments you antivaxx morons have come up with, “Too many too soon” has to be the absolute stupidest. You could concentrate all the active ingredients from the entire vaccine schedule—even the ridiculously inflated numbers of “shots” you idiots quote, and stick them into a baby before it was all the way out (would that it were possible!), and that wouldn’t be a thousandth part of the antigens they’re going to be exposed to that day! They’re just exquisitely targeted, is all.

I have difficulty expressing my reaction to Ms. Wright’s post. One of the key things I learned at IMFAR was the paucity of brain tissue for research and how important this is. Last thing anyone wants is the untimely death of a loved one. But tissue from autistics, children and adults, can help a great deal in furthering autism research.

Suffice it to say that if Ms. Wright’s article results in 1 fewer brain for research, she has done the community a great disservice.

Let me instead focus on a tiny detail: “It is estimated that 50% of the ACE budgets go to overheard.”

I suspect Orac knows more about this than I, but, yes, overhead charges at academic institutions are high. Overhead can be about 50%. Of course, an overhead “tax” of 50% is not the same thing as “50% of the budget is overhead”. If a university has a 50% overhead, that means that if a budget is $100,000, the grant would pay $150,000, 50% of the budget.

Somehow I doubt this would be a question were a giant grant given to, say, Martha Herbert who is at Harvard, and who is supportive of the vaccine causation idea. Harvard’s overhead (F&A) is about 71%.

How quaint that “are you so sure” is defending Wakefield’s apologist…

Yes I “am so sure” about the validity of the study and yes I “am so sure” about Katie Wright’s totally inept analysis and critique of the study.

Katie and her fellow “science journalists” at AoA can spin the results of this study all they want…they can even come up with new “theories”, based on junk science, but there is irrefutable evidence that de novo mutations of genes and/or the in utero environment are implicated in the causes of autism.

The AoA “journalists” and their minions need to get over themselves. They are no longer driving the debate about the causes of autism. They need to understand that sometimes sh*t happens and sometimes sh*t happens to them.

Isolating themselves within their internet echo chamber of blame and martyrdom does a disservice to their family, their extended family and their disabled children.

It is very liberating, once you accept your child and move on to the “other” role you will playing…as the parent of a developmentally disabled child.

Idiot @ 71:

Anybody with a brainstem, who’s ever looked through a microscope, would know that 100,000 is a ridiculous underestimate.

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